Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...

Moderators: khz, MattKingUSA

Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

Hello everyone!

How I've gotten here

You can either skip this part or grab some popcorn...

I'm very glad this forum exists, but I fear I've discovered it too late. I went straight into MOTU UltraLite AVB's fly trap... As many others report, I have several problems operating this interface on Linux and now I'm thinking about replacing it.

Let me say that I am a Mac switcher and I've used a UAD Apollo Twin before. Knowing that hell will freeze over before I get that to work with Linux (without going insane reverse engineering and writing a driver for the device first of course), so I was in search for a new DSP audio interface and found the aforementioned MOTU. I've used it on my Mac for a few months before switching to Linux to "ease the switch" and it worked pretty well I have to say. However, my first weeks on Linux have only seen me restart Pulseaudio / PipeWire every few minutes to every few hours due to lack of audio output without any indication on the Linux' computers part.

Rambling aside, I'm throwing in the towel.

What do I want?
  • An interface that "just works" and continues to do so for 8h at a time (I know, I'm asking a lot here :D)
  • 2 XLR/Line Combo Ins
  • S/PDIF / ADAT capabilities (optional)
  • DSP support that is working and controllable on Linux (Compressor, EQ, HPF, Gate, Routing, Limiter at least).
  • DACs/ADCs/amps that aren't of worse quality than the MOTU
  • While I also sometimes toy around in DAWs, The main use will be recording narrations. With the Apollo Twin, I could come into a call or record a podcast/screencast and it'd always sound great with the rest of my setup, no extra setup or post-processing required. That kind of setup made me very productive on the Mac using the UAD Apollo Twin, the MOTU also worked great for this.
Is there any chance that there is such a thing on the market?

Thank you very much for all of your suggestions.
User avatar
eikakot
Established Member
Posts: 98
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:24 pm
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Has thanked: 6 times
Been thanked: 2 times
Contact:

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by eikakot »

Hi,
For the stability I would recommend RME (Babyface Pro FS for example) but the DSP of it is not controllable from Linux but recently it at least became possible to use it's internal mixer (https://github.com/MrBollie/bbfpromix). There are many great options for effects/processing without internal DSP but using just software available on Linux.
User avatar
sjzstudio
Established Member
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2020 11:24 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times
Contact:

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by sjzstudio »

RME is perhaps the best option. Fireface series devices work in Class compliant mode with Linux. But you can't access your DSP features directly. Those devices that can be controlled directly from the front panel of the devices also allow access to the DSP features.

I have said many times that more Linux users are needed so that we can get better hardware support. That is why you need to keep your voice whenever there is a good opportunity. But then it is a completely different story.
Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

Hi!

Thank you both for your recommendations so far. From what I've read on their site, the RME Fireface UCX II seems like a perfect contender for my use case. DSP can be controlled from the front panel and I can use my Mac / iPad to save a preset if the on-device capabilities turn out too fiddly.
Does anyone have experiences with that exact interface on Linux? Their user manual mentions Linux directly but at the same time they say that their motivation had been iPad support.

About voices being heard: I think it's just a huge problem that there's not a huge market out there for running Linux as the main OS. Desktop Linux has a very niche demographic to begin with, so I can kind of understand the manufacturer's standpoint. What I don't get is that there is still pretty much nothing except very simple devices on the market that support Linux directly. I would expect the more "pro" and customizable the more people would also be interested in Linux and JACK and other technologies that enable them in running wild setups. That does not seem to be the case, though.
User avatar
sjzstudio
Established Member
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2020 11:24 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 4 times
Contact:

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by sjzstudio »

Lots of information about RME devices. https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewforum.php?id=10
User avatar
bluebell
Established Member
Posts: 1576
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:44 am
Location: Saarland, Germany
Has thanked: 14 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by bluebell »

You hit the channel hopping issue.

I am afraid it isn't fixable without compiling your own kernel. Having done that, my Ultralite AVB just works.

I have an older model without ESS chips. I cannot say if the following approach works with the newer ones as well:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=18046&p=122814#p122814
Linux – MOTU UltraLite AVB – Qtractor – https://soundcloud.com/suedwestlicht
Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

bluebell wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 11:32 am You hit the channel hopping issue.
Yes, I thought so. :-(

I know about Drumfix' patch but since it's not in mainline and is a bit of a hassle I really don't want to depend on it too much. it also hasn't changed for a year now so I'm expecting that the work on it has stalled. I'm definitely not a driver developer so I sadly can't just come in and take over :-/ A quick and easy "fix" to get around this would probably to prepare the patch for DKMS if it isn't already, I'm probably going to give it a try and report back.

About RME:
I've read up quite a bit now on their stuff and most of it really seems to work great - also on Linux. However, they are also a lot more limited when it comes to DSP effects compared to the UltraLite. A compromise I'm willing to live with for rock solid performance but still somewhat of a downgrade. Also quite fiddly to work with.

I'm a bit sad to see that there is really no other option. Thank you all anyways for your input.
merlyn
Established Member
Posts: 999
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 77 times
Been thanked: 105 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by merlyn »

I have a question for Ultralite AVB owners. Does the software that controls the on-card DSP run on the device?

My understanding was that the Ultralite AVB was a good candidate to get working on Linux because the control app runs on the device and can be accessed through a web browser. That really is the only way on-card DSP is going to work with Linux. No manufacturer at the moment is going to write Total Mix or equivalent for Linux I think.
The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that we make it, and could just as easily make it differently.
Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

Yes, this is how it works.

The UltraLite AVB runs an embedded flavor of Linux and a small webserver to control the DSP. There are official APIs to tap in for several features of these devices an official driver could provide or even a Spec definition that people could program against to write their own GUI. I totally understand why there's no TotalMix etc. for Linux but the manufacturers could also make it a bit simpler for their customers to "help themselves."
merlyn
Established Member
Posts: 999
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 77 times
Been thanked: 105 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by merlyn »

Peng!uin wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:13 pm I would expect the more "pro" and customizable the more people would also be interested in Linux and JACK and other technologies that enable them in running wild setups. That does not seem to be the case, though.
It's more like there's a hole in the middle. At the budget end Behringer interfaces work, as pointed out elsewhere because they use ten year old technology. :)

At the money-is-no-object professional end Digigram

https://www.digigram.com/production-and ... ound-card/

and Audioscience

http://www.audioscience.com/internet/do ... rivers.htm

have cards with ALSA drivers. It's the interfaces in the middle that are a problem. OK, RME is the top of the middle. :)
The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that we make it, and could just as easily make it differently.
Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

merlyn wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:00 pm It's more like there's a hole in the middle. [...]
Yup.
merlyn wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:00 pm At the money-is-no-object professional end Digigram [...] and Audioscience [...]
have cards with ALSA drivers. It's the interfaces in the middle that are a problem.
Now we're talking! I find those to be super interesting and I think one of those Audioscience jobbies seems to be a possible candidate for me. However, they seem hard to obtain here in Germany. But I can ask around. Thanks for linking that in.
If you've got any more info or first hand experience, I'd love to hear about it!
merlyn wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:00 pm OK, RME is the top of the middle. :)
I tend to disagree on that front. I mean whether RME's cards are "top of the middle" or the "bottom of the top" or what have you is kind of a glass half empty / half full debate (or Low Cut vs. High Pass Filter :D). However, if you compare e.g. an RME Fireface UCX II (the card I might get) or a UAD Apollo Twin QUAD to let's say an Audioscience ASI5810 or the linked Digigram LoLa280 - Money wise, they are playin in the same ballpark (>= 1,000€) so I'm not really convinced that they need to perform any worse. There might be an aspect I'm not knowing about but to me these don't seem too far apart.
I don't know the size of either Digigram or Audioscience, but RME seems to be a pretty small company. That plays a roll in all of this of course.

P.S.: To be honest, I'd spend more if I knew the solution was worth it. but I might be in a small niche being able to offset the necessary cash.
bluzee
Established Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2020 11:43 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by bluzee »

Not sure about onboard DSP for studio, but for live production they simplify things some what as you can eliminate your processing crate and just pack the mixer.

There are cross platform mixer units with DSP and multitrack USB Digital interface. Soundcraft UI24 is one. People love to bash Behringer but I see a lot of X32 units being used on the smaller stages at festivals. Midas MR18 also.

Any company can do cross platform for control. They just have to start out with that. There is nothing about Linux or Mac that prevents it and it's probably a lot easier than what they have to develop for Win.

As for numbers of Linux users you have to remember that no one is counting. All of us would be counted as Win users. The manufacturers have no way to know that we even exist.

As for modern equipment.... people still buy tubes.
merlyn
Established Member
Posts: 999
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 77 times
Been thanked: 105 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by merlyn »

Peng!uin wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 7:57 pm If you've got any more info or first hand experience, I'd love to hear about it!
The only way I'm getting an Audioscience card is if an old PCI one comes up for ~£50 on ebay. :) This was how I got an RME card.
I tend to disagree on that front. I mean whether RME's cards are "top of the middle" or the "bottom of the top" or what have you is kind of a glass half empty / half full debate (or Low Cut vs. High Pass Filter :D). However, if you compare e.g. an RME Fireface UCX II (the card I might get) or a UAD Apollo Twin QUAD to let's say an Audioscience ASI5810 or the linked Digigram LoLa280 - Money wise, they are playin in the same ballpark (>= 1,000€) so I'm not really convinced that they need to perform any worse. There might be an aspect I'm not knowing about but to me these don't seem too far apart.
It's not a fair comparison, no. Audioscience and Digigram are aimed at broadcasters, and RME and UA are aimed at musicians. We get more stuff with the musician's cards. With UA we get DSP and proprietary plugins, with RME we get mic pre-amps and TotalMix. You may notice that Audioscience and Digigram don't offer cut down versions of DAWs as a bonus.

My RME card is very good, but what I think is good about it is not the general impression of what is good about RME i.e. low latency and Total Mix. What I think is good about a 9632 is it has balanced ins and outs and is very quiet. It's the analogue side that makes this a good card to me.

A Fireface UCX II looks good. It's a one box solution; a studio-in-a-box rather than simply high quality balanced ins and outs. BTW is it really possible to manage the FX from the built in display? Settings and configuration, yes, but threshold, ratio and make-up gain on a compressor? With one knob?
The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that we make it, and could just as easily make it differently.
Peng!uin
Established Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:31 pm
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by Peng!uin »

Let's find out together. I've just bought the Fireface UCX II.

Yes, from pictures and the sparse info that is out there, it looks like it. That way you can also use the DSP when you're doing DURec (direct to USB recording).
merlyn
Established Member
Posts: 999
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:13 pm
Has thanked: 77 times
Been thanked: 105 times

Re: Modern DSP audio interface for Linux?

Post by merlyn »

Wow. I was thinking about making a post where I was going to say something like : "For DSP the Ultralite is the only game in town". Too late. :)

I hope it works out, and I look forward to hearing about how it goes on Linux.
The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that we make it, and could just as easily make it differently.
Post Reply